Politics: Mnuchin Defends Lifting Sanctions on Firms Tied to Putin Ally - PressFrom - US

PoliticsMnuchin Defends Lifting Sanctions on Firms Tied to Putin Ally

04:55  11 january  2019
04:55  11 january  2019 Source:   bloomberg.com

Congress Is Examining Decision to Lift Sanctions on Russian’s Firms

Congress Is Examining Decision to Lift Sanctions on Russian’s Firms The Trump administration wants to end sanctions on the corporate empire controlled by the oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska, but members of Congress have questions.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday defended its decision to lift sanctions on companies linked to the billionaire Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska, despite deep concerns from newly empowered House Democrats that the move was an effort by President Trump to help an ally

The newly appointed Democratic leaders of seven House committees wrote to Mnuchin earlier this week expressing their concerns, citing their committees' "One of the goals of sanctions is to change behavior, and the proposed delistings of companies that Deripaska will no longer control show that

Mnuchin Defends Lifting Sanctions on Firms Tied to Putin Ally© Bloomberg Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Interview

(Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled he won’t back down from plans to lift U.S. sanctions on three companies tied to an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin even as he said the Trump administration would consider delaying the move to accommodate concerns raised by lawmakers.

Mnuchin denied the action was intended to help the Kremlin, telling reporters Thursday after a closed briefing with lawmakers that the Treasury Department’s decision to lift restrictions on companies tied to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska are “not politically motivated.” The companies play a major role in the aluminum markets.

House committee chiefs press Mnuchin for answers on sanctions relief for Russian oligarch

House committee chiefs press Mnuchin for answers on sanctions relief for Russian oligarch A group of Democrats leading seven powerful House committees are calling on the Trump administration to delay its decision to ease sanctions on businesses linked to a prominent Russian oligarch, while demanding further information about the move. The seven chairmen requested on Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brief lawmakers about the decision to terminate sanctions against three companies tied to Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire aluminum magnate with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

Mnuchin a letter asking him "to explain the easing of sanctions on businesses tied to Russian Deripaska himself would remain under U.S. sanctions imposed in April on associates of Putin over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 decisions to lift the sanctions on the three Russian firms .

to lift sanctions on companies owned by Oleg V. Deripaska, an influential Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir V. Putin Mr. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is also reviewing the sanctions decision, asked Mr. Mnuchin how the

“Treasury has made it’s best judgment for applying the law and regulations for us to have effective sanctions programs,” Mnuchin said. “We both have to have a way that companies that are affected by ownership and control will be picked up and then a fair way that they’ll be de-listed.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed Mnuchin’s defense as “one of the worst” performances she has seen from the Trump administration. Pelosi, who left before the session ended, said the Treasury secretary “barely testified” in the classified briefing and was “wasting the time of members of Congress.”

Democrats, who are now in control of the House, tied their scrutiny of Mnuchin’s decision to continuing efforts to investigate the U.S. response to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Their demand to hear directly from Mnuchin on the department’s reasoning signals a new era of congressional scrutiny of President Donald Trump’s cabinet officers and his administration’s decisions.

Treasury's Mnuchin defends U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Russian firms

Treasury's Mnuchin defends U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Russian firms Treasury's Mnuchin defends U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Russian firms

The Treasury said it would consider lifting the sanctions altogether if the company severs ties with Oleg Deripaska , a Russian oligarch who has ties to Putin . Given the impact on our partners and allies , we are issuing a general license extending the maintenance and wind-down period while we

The Trump administration announced Wednesday it’s lifting sanctions on three companies connected to a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration is terminating sanctions on Russian aluminum giant Rusal, its

The Treasury plan to lift sanctions on the companies -- United Co. Rusal, En+ Group Plc and EuroSibEnergo JSC -- could take effect as early as Jan. 19 unless Congress blocks it, though Mnuchin said he would consider extending the timeline.

Read More: Deripaska’s Hard Times Help Oligarch Weather Trump Sanctions

Several key lawmakers have raised concerns about Treasury’s intention to lift sanctions on the three companies after Congress forced the administration to take action related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

One of those lawmakers, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California, also expressed skepticism about Mnuchin’s reasoning for providing sanctions relief. “Deripaska was sanctioned for his role in Russia’s malign activities and I have yet to see how this deal advances the objective of deterring further malevolent conduct,” he said in a statement released after the briefing.

Schumer to force vote on U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Russia firms

Schumer to force vote on U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Russia firms Schumer to force vote on U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Russia firms

He retained lobbyists with ties to the Trump administration as well as law firms and public relations experts to make the case that Mr. Deripaska was During the negotiations, Mr. Mnuchin had signaled a willingness to make such a deal in the interests of stabilizing the aluminum market, and Mr. Harrell

It imposes sanctions on a family member, his son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, who has had close business ties to one of Mr. Putin ’s longtime friends from St “The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Earlier: How Deripaska’s Deal Means Cutting Stake But Keeping Influence

“It will be incumbent upon Congress to maintain pressure on the Treasury to explain its reversal of course and why Deripaska or his companies are suddenly deserving of this relief.” Schiff added.

Congress currently has until Jan. 18 to vote to block the move, though Democrats have asked for more time. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York introduced a measure to overturn Treasury’s decision.

Mnuchin said in a statement released before the briefing that the companies had undertaken significant restructuring and governance changes to sever Deripaska’s control, and committed to “an unprecedented level of transparency” to ensure he doesn’t reassert himself.

Deripaska may continue to be a major shareholder but no longer hold a majority of stock in the companies.

In a letter this week, seven House Democratic committee heads said that Treasury’s decision appears to keep Deripaska’s significant ownership of En+ Group Plc intact, while transferring some shares and financial interests to the Kremlin-linked Russian bank VTB, which is also under sanction.

Mnuchin meets with Senate GOP to shore up ranks on Russia sanctions vote

Mnuchin meets with Senate GOP to shore up ranks on Russia sanctions vote Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Senate Republicans on Tuesday ahead of a key vote on Russia sanctions to prevent GOP defections on a Democratic-sponsored resolution that could embarrass President Trump. Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) said ahead of Mnuchin's lunchtime briefing that it would factor heavily into GOP colleagues' votes on a resolution disapproving of the Treasury Department's proposals to relax sanctions on a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, connected to Russian intelligence and organized crime.

The administration ultimately decided to lift the sanctions in the waning days of the last Congress — timing But the decision has provoked backlash given Mr. Deripaska’s close ties to President Vladimir V Democratic lawmakers sent Mr. Mnuchin a letter on Tuesday seeking an explanation for why the

With the sanctions slated to be lifted in the coming days, members said they asked Mnuchin and his team to extend the deadline. “To rush this through with the action taken as the calendar was running, almost on Christmas Eve, and expect the Congress to act during the government shutdown is really

Representatives of the three companies spent nearly eight months negotiating with Treasury on how significantly Deripaska’s influence needed to be decreased in order to lift the sanctions. The effort was accompanied by a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign targeting the Trump administration and Capitol Hill.

More: Trump’s Rusal Relief Tests Whether Deripaska Is in Driver’s Seat

Treasury said last month that Deripaska himself will remain sanctioned. Removing the ban from Rusal is expected to relieve pressure from the global aluminum markets, which have whipsawed since the U.S. imposed the sanctions in April.

Lawmakers’ jitters over the Trump’s Russia policy is driven by concerns that the president will not be tough enough on Putin and his allies. Several legislative proposals emerged with methods to force the administration to escalate sanctions on Russia after Trump stood next to Putin in a press conference last July in Helsinki, denouncing what U.S. intelligence officials have said about Russia’s election interference.

Congressional scrutiny of the Treasury decision has also stirred some concern that those who might face sanctions may not take the administration’s negotiations seriously if political pressure from Capitol Hill could alter the outcome.

“The risk is that targets of U.S. sanctions are now serving two masters, which will reduce the incentive for them to change their behavior because they cannot be certain of the payoff,” said Sean Kane, a lawyer at Dechert LLP in Washington who previously worked in Treasury’s sanctions unit.

To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at [email protected];Saleha Mohsin in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at [email protected], Mike Dorning, John Harney

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

In rebuke to Trump administration, more than 130 Republicans break ranks to oppose Treasury plan to lift sanctions against Putin ally.
Republicans joined House Democrats in opposing a Treasury plan to lift Russian sanctions against companies controlled by a Vladimir Putin ally. The 362-to-53 vote registers formal House disapproval of plans to relax sanctions against companies controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and comes despite last-minute appeals by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. A similar measure narrowly failed in the Senate this week, despite 11 Republicans breaking ranks to vote with Democrats. Treasury said it intends to lift sanctions the U.S.

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